Giving up the House to Live in the Shed: One Reason Why I Am not an Atheist
Recently Debilis, who runs the blog Fide Dubitandum (which I have plugged in the past), announced that he was retiring from blogging. His reason for doing so (which you can read here) is perfectly understandable, and I wish him the best of luck going forward.
Though Debilis discussed many insightful and engaging topics on his blog there is one that has really stuck with me. Over the past year or so I’ve found myself reading blogs written by people who are passionately atheist. Some were once religious, and strongly so, and it is those individuals who give me the most pause about my own faith. I have often thought that there are few stronger arguments, at an emotional level, than the statement “I once thought just as you thought, yet here I am now and I know better.” It’s not blogs that are written by people who were once loosely or vaguely religious that bother me, but those written by individuals who held almost the same beliefs as myself, and held them with seemingly as much intelligence and passion. Strangely enough these individuals do not have to make much of an argument for me to find myself affected. I begin to wonder whether I will be where they are now someday. It makes me doubt my own faith more than most arguments. But, of course, they come bearing arguments as well. Arguments that I have answers for, but whose existence makes me wonder “Am I just fabricating justifications for my own faith?”
But when these thoughts and feelings come if I am wise I am reminded of what C. S. Lewis first taught me, before I had reason to doubt, and which Debilis has reminded me of, now in the midst of my doubt. What Debilis has reminded me of most is that atheism (specifically naturalism) raises many good questions but does not have many good answers. Most atheists are content to tear down religion and leave the debris where it lies rather than build anything of substance. Atheists often make very strong points about the problems with my own philosophy, but when I examine their philosophy it is in even worse shape. Atheists rail against the cruelty and immorality in the Old Testament, but when naturalism is examined we see that it claims that cruelty and immorality are relative concepts that have no objective value. In the morning they explain that no good god would require a sacrifice on the cross, and in the afternoon they solemnly teach that “good” is an irrational concept that only corresponds to societal behaviors which have been naturally selected as advantageous for the survival of the species. With one breath they implore us to rise up against the pastors and priests and free our minds, and with the next breath they point out that none of us are actually free to think anything at all. Atheists complain that the house of Christ is misshapen, that the beams are rotted by hypocrisy, that the foundation is built on a primitive superstitious ground, and that the floor plan does not leave enough room for tolerance and understanding. They count the flaws in construction and maintenance and present a list of defects that can be quite compelling. But when I come to visit the house of Atheism I find that it is a rough one room shanty, it’s roof full of the holes of determinism, it’s foundation was hastily constructed in the swamp of naturalism, and that it does not have enough room for any non-relativistic morality, much less tolerance.
Debilis was always ready to listen to atheists criticize religion; but he always demanded that they produce something of substance themselves. He would ask them to put forward their own metaphysic for critique as well. Most were either unwilling or unable. “I do not need to put forward my own home to show that yours in unlivable,” they seemed to say. And yet we find that if our home is unlivable than their’s should have been condemned long ago.